Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Race of the Day- Massachusetts U.S. Senate

69 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2012 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Safe Democrat

Over the past four years, there have been some very closely watched special elections for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, one of which produced a surprising result, but there is not much suspense about this regularly scheduled competition.

 After the 2012 election, veteran Democrat Senator John Kerry left his job to become the U.S. Secretary of State. The state's Democrat Governor then appointed a placeholder to hold his seat until a fairly quick special election could be held. That necessity was because the state's Democrats made it a law over a decade ago when Kerry was planning to run for President, and did not want then Republican Governor Mitt Romney naming a replacement who would serve until the next regular election. He never did get to leave his seat then, but did so in 2013. That year, the special election was won by longtime Congressman Ed Markey who finally moved up to the Senate after patiently waiting his turn for many years. He still had to get through a competitive primary against a fellow Congressman and then a reasonably tough general election against Republican newcomer Gabriel Gomez.

Now, Markey is seeking his first full six-year term in the Senate and since he took over the seat there has not been any real risk of him not getting that term. His first bit of luck occurred when recently defeated Republican Senator Scott Brown opted not to mount a campaign so quick after losing in the Presidential year of 2012. Polls had showed that he was still fairly well-liked in the state and would have had a decent chance of defeating the very liberal Markey in the special election. Of course, Brown had won a special election before, back in 2010, when he shockingly won the seat that had previously been held by the late Ted Kennedy. Gomez was a somewhat credible candidate but not on the level of Brown, who since he was not going to run in the special election, was almost certainly not going to run for the Senate in 2014. Of course, he actually is doing just that and hopes to make a comeback via the neighboring state of New Hampshire.

Republicans had assumed that even if Gomez fell short in 2013 that he would be game to represent the party in the regular 2014 election, even though Markey would be that much tougher to beat. He opted not to do so and the party was basically reduced to Plan C. Things could be worse though as they did attract a candidate who at least will not embarrass the party or hurt in the Gubernatorial race or a key Congressional contest.

The soon to be GOP nominee will be Hopkinton Selectman Brian Herr. Any potential primary opposition to him has since fallen by the wayside. Despite it being a promising Republican year, Massachusetts is not at all likely to toss an incumbent Democrat from statewide office without a special set of circumstances. Thus, Herr is going to lose to Markey and will likely fall significantly short of the 10 point margin separating the nominees in last year's special election. Herr really has nothing to lose though by taking on this task for his party and may benefit one day from the exposure and experience.

Herr campaign link:

Senate races predicted thus far: 5 D (4 Safe, 1 Tossup), 10 R (3 Safe, 1 Likely, 4 Leans, 2 Tossup)
Overall predicted thus far: 39 D, 40 R (net Republican gain of 4)


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